“It wasn’t a planned decision or anything,” said Kurt Soller, a 30-year-old editor at Bon Appétit, about his not using “fiancé” after he got engaged last winter. “But like a lot of wedding customs, it just ended up feeling too hetero for two dudes to adopt just because it was tradition.”
A BuzzFeed article from last August reflected a certain point of view with its headline (“The Word ‘Fiancé’ Is the Worst and Must Be Stopped”), and an accompanying survey showed that nearly a quarter of respondents preferred the term “partner.” A personal essay in Refinery29 (“No, He’s NOT My ‘Fiancé”) made a similar point.
“I feel pretentious saying it,” said Broidy Eckhardt, 29, a buyer for the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts who married last month. During her engagement, she just referred to her future husband by his given name or called him her boyfriend.
Cassia Skurecki, a photo producer, 29, who got engaged at the end of 2015, said the word fiancé “is kind of like when you go into a restaurant and can’t quite pronounce something on the menu. It’s awkward and foreign and you always hesitate to say it with fear of sounding like you are trying too hard to make sure it sounds authentic.”
Mr. Soller said that calling his partner his fiancé “feels like too much information, or just plain brag-y, as if I need folks to know that we're a couple and that we're getting married within five minutes of meeting them.”
The thing many hate most about using the word is the way it invites unwanted questions like, “When’s the wedding?” and “How’d he propose?” Discussing this with a stranger at a party is at once uncomfortable and uninteresting. Doing it 10 times in one night is excruciating.
Lauren Kay, the senior style editor at the wedding magazine The Knot, said the distaste for “fiancé” among millennials is in line with a larger matrimonial trend.
“I think this generation as a whole is less concerned with labels,” she said. “Millennials are getting married later in life, and many are cohabitating before saying ‘I do.’ As a result, I think the change from boyfriend or girlfriend to fiancé doesn’t feel like a huge shift, despite the intended commitment.”
So if not fiancé, then what should one call one’s betrothed? John H. McWhorter, who teaches linguistics at Columbia University, suggested: nothing at all.
“To the extent that people are thinking ‘fiancé’ is a little twee, the new way of saying may not involve a word at all,” Dr. McWhorter said. “One can demote something to mere description rather than labeling.”
For instance, he said, you might introduce your future spouse as your girlfriend, partner or boyfriend and offer up the tidbit that you’re getting married soon.
The good news is that this problem of semantics is a temporary one. Once you get to “husband” or “wife,” your relationship is already old news. No one asks to see the ring or wonders how you met, supposing, rightfully, that you’ve moved on to more mundane matters.Continue reading the main story
Because of an editing error, an article on Oct. 6 about young people who reject the term fiancé misstated one result of an online survey conducted by BuzzFeed about the issue. Almost one-quarter of respondents — not a majority — said they preferred the term “partner.”
Want to hear a sick joke? A husband and wife walk into the emergency room in the late evening on Sept. 5, 2015. A few hours and tests later, the doctor clarifies that the unusual pain the wife is feeling on her right side isn’t the no-biggie appendicitis they suspected but rather ovarian cancer.
As the couple head home in the early morning of Sept. 6, somehow through the foggy shock of it all, they make the connection that today, the day they learned what had been festering, is also the day they would have officially kicked off their empty-nestering. The youngest of their three children had just left for college.
So many plans instantly went poof.
No trip with my husband and parents to South Africa. No reason, now, to apply for the Harvard Loeb Fellowship. No dream tour of Asia with my mother. No writers’ residencies at those wonderful schools in India, Vancouver, Jakarta.
No wonder the word cancer and cancel look so similar.
This is when we entered what I came to think of as Plan “Be,” existing only in the present. As for the future, allow me to introduce you to the gentleman of this article, Jason Brian Rosenthal.
He is an easy man to fall in love with. I did it in one day.
Let me explain: My father’s best friend since summer camp, “Uncle” John, had known Jason and me separately our whole lives, but Jason and I had never met. I went to college out east and took my first job in California. When I moved back home to Chicago, John — who thought Jason and I were perfect for each other — set us up on a blind date.
It was 1989. We were only 24. I had precisely zero expectations about this going anywhere. But when he knocked on the door of my little frame house, I thought, “Uh-oh, there is something highly likable about this person.”
By the end of dinner, I knew I wanted to marry him.
Jason? He knew a year later.
I have never been on Tinder, Bumble or eHarmony, but I’m going to create a general profile for Jason right here, based on my experience of coexisting in the same house with him for, like, 9,490 days.
First, the basics: He is 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, with salt-and-pepper hair and hazel eyes.
The following list of attributes is in no particular order because everything feels important to me in some way.
He is a sharp dresser. Our young adult sons, Justin and Miles, often borrow his clothes. Those who know him — or just happen to glance down at the gap between his dress slacks and dress shoes — know that he has a flair for fabulous socks. He is fit and enjoys keeping in shape.
If our home could speak, it would add that Jason is uncannily handy. On the subject of food — man, can he cook. After a long day, there is no sweeter joy than seeing him walk in the door, plop a grocery bag down on the counter, and woo me with olives and some yummy cheese he has procured before he gets to work on the evening’s meal.
Jason loves listening to live music; it’s our favorite thing to do together. I should also add that our 19-year-old daughter, Paris, would rather go to a concert with him than anyone else.
A Conversation Between Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Her Daughter
When I was working on my first memoir, I kept circling sections my editor wanted me to expand upon. She would say, “I’d like to see more of this character.”
Of course, I would agree — he was indeed a captivating character. But it was funny because she could have just said: “Jason. Let’s add more about Jason.”
He is an absolutely wonderful father. Ask anyone. See that guy on the corner? Go ahead and ask him; he’ll tell you. Jason is compassionate — and he can flip a pancake.
Jason paints. I love his artwork. I would call him an artist except for the law degree that keeps him at his downtown office most days from 9 to 5. Or at least it did before I got sick.
If you’re looking for a dreamy, let’s-go-for-it travel companion, Jason is your man. He also has an affinity for tiny things: taster spoons, little jars, a mini-sculpture of a couple sitting on a bench, which he presented to me as a reminder of how our family began.
Here is the kind of man Jason is: He showed up at our first pregnancy ultrasound with flowers. This is a man who, because he is always up early, surprises me every Sunday morning by making some kind of oddball smiley face out of items near the coffeepot: a spoon, a mug, a banana.
This is a man who emerges from the minimart or gas station and says, “Give me your palm.” And, voilà, a colorful gumball appears. (He knows I love all the flavors but white.)
My guess is you know enough about him now. So let’s swipe right.
Wait. Did I mention that he is incredibly handsome? I’m going to miss looking at that face of his.
If he sounds like a prince and our relationship seems like a fairy tale, it’s not too far off, except for all of the regular stuff that comes from two and a half decades of playing house together. And the part about me getting cancer. Blech.
In my most recent memoir (written entirely before my diagnosis), I invited readers to send in suggestions for matching tattoos, the idea being that author and reader would be bonded by ink.
I was totally serious about this and encouraged submitters to be serious as well. Hundreds poured in. A few weeks after publication in August, I heard from a 62-year-old librarian in Milwaukee named Paulette.
She suggested the word “more.” This was based on an essay in the book where I mention that “more” was my first spoken word (true). And now it may very well be my last (time shall tell).
In September, Paulette drove down to meet me at a Chicago tattoo parlor. She got hers (her very first) on her left wrist. I got mine on the underside of my left forearm, in my daughter’s handwriting. This was my second tattoo; the first is a small, lowercase “j” that has been on my ankle for 25 years. You can probably guess what it stands for. Jason has one too, but with more letters: “AKR.”
I want more time with Jason. I want more time with my children. I want more time sipping martinis at the Green Mill Jazz Club on Thursday nights. But that is not going to happen. I probably have only a few days left being a person on this planet. So why I am doing this?
I am wrapping this up on Valentine’s Day, and the most genuine, non-vase-oriented gift I can hope for is that the right person reads this, finds Jason, and another love story begins.
I’ll leave this intentional empty space below as a way of giving you two the fresh start you deserve.
With all my love, AmyContinue reading the main story